Today you will likely see tech punditry online or on Tee Vee talking about how Intel now leads AMD firmly in the "speed race." This race has little or nothing to do with which processor is speedierthe Athlon at 1.2GHz is usually just a bit faster than the Pentium 4 at 1.7GHz. The punditry's new "speed race" is based only on clock speed, and I have no good explanation about why that doesn't involve gross incompetence. That's not to say the P4 isn't competitiveto the contrary, the 1.8GHz P4 ought to give an Athlon a very good run for its moneybut MHz and GHz aren't magical properties to describe CPU performance. They're just clock speeds.
"Speed" lectures aside, the P4 1.8GHz is Intel's fastest processor yet. It will list for US$562, and the 1.6GHz version will go for US$294.